Having found a common passion for teaching, Joyce Sibbett, an associate professor of education at Westminster College, and her daughter Jennifer Duffield (‘06), MBA Westminster alumna, started a Montessori school together.
The first Dancing Moose Montessori School (DMMS) opened in January of 2007.
DMMS now has two locations that range from 18-month-old children to teaching classes a few years after kindergarten. It also offers before and after care.
“I thought about starting a school as I was teaching courses here,” Sibbett said. “I thought about wanting to get in the trenches.”
Duffield started out as a chemistry major as an undergraduate while working at a preschool to help finance her own education.
“She enjoyed that a lot and decided [that] she could do a better job [and] could use my influence in education and her business influence to be able to go forward and start a school,” Sibbett said.
In creating the name for their school, they wanted it to focus on children being able to enjoy nature, which is where the “Moose” came from. The owners said they also wanted to bring in the idea of the arts.
“So we had the Dancing Moose,” Sibbett said. “We wanted to be able to bring in the children’s perspectives. A dancing moose, to a child, is a playful and yet a very meaningful context. We wanted to use a child’s lens.”
Jodi Kiser, a school director at the West Valley location, shared that she has loved her experience working with the DMMS.
“Working here at DMMS is fantastic,” she said. “It is a good community where teachers support each other.”
Wanting to create a quality education, the mother-daughter duo provides opportunities that children of working parents would find beneficial.
First, they created a vision. They said it came from being a working mom, as well as wanting to devise a quality program.
DMMS shares a vision to be a place where children could be educated, not just simply a daycare.
Co-founder Duffield shared the importance of that image and wrote a business plan as part of the MBA.
“The bottom line is that it’s wonderful to have a vision and it’s wonderful to bring another component into what I love and what I believe in, which is what I teach at Westminster,” Sibbett said.